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Chester F. Baker local history research and family papers


Held at: Delaware County Historical Society [Contact Us]408 Avenue of the States, Chester, Pennsylvania, 19013

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Delaware County Historical Society. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Chester F. Baker was a municipal engineer and amateur historian from the city of Chester in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. His work as a surveyor pertained to the conveyance of land, laying out real estate developments and planning incident to these matters. He also represented a number of boroughs and townships in public improvement projects such as sewers, sidewalks and grading. In 1955, he was lauded as "Engineer of the Year" by the Delaware County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers.

Baker attended the Drexel Institute of Technology and briefly worked for Delaware County Trust Company. He joined the Army during World War I, serving with the expeditionary forces from 1917 to 1919. He married Ruth Cobourne in 1925.

Baker was a member of First Presbyterian Church of Chester; the American Legion, Stevenson Post of Chester; the Delaware County Institute of Science; and the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia. He was president of the Chester Rural Cemetery Association and director of the Delaware County Historical Society. Active in the local history community, Baker played a role in saving the birthplace of John Morton in Prospect Park, the Pusey House, and the Morton Mortenson House; he also helped plan celebrations for the 300th anniversary of the Swedes and Finns landing in the Delaware Valley.

Baker died in 1963 at the age of 71.


"Chester F. Baker." Delaware County Daily Times, March 24, 1963. Accessed July 2, 2013.

"Historian Chester F. Baker Named 'Engineer of Year.'" Chester Times, February 17, 1955. Accessed July 2, 2013.

Votaw, Galja Barish. "Chester F. Baker." Chester Times, August 6, 1951. Accessed July 2, 2013.

The collection consists of well over 100 binders with research materials on various history topics, papers from organizations with which Baker was involved, and papers relating to his work as a surveyor. There are also a few personal and family photograph albums and scrapbooks. Baker fastidiously indexed the subjects mentioned in his binders, creating alphabetical indexes for most volumes and subject reference cards to include in the Delaware County Historical Society's card catalog. The most frequently-used volumes from the Baker collection have been photocopied; access copies are available in the Delaware County Historical Society's library.

Most of Baker's history research--mostly local history--is housed in binders labeled "Historical Notes," but there are also binders on specific topics such as "John Morton." The binders contain transcripts or abstracts of records such as census records, estate records, and tax records (which he copied and indexed); research on local family genealogies and house histories; pamphlets and ephemera; and a few photographs.

This collection also includes Baker's papers, principally correspondence, from organizations with which he was involved. His papers relating to his work with the Delaware County Historical Society are the most substantial, forming about 1/3 of this collection. There are also papers relating to his role with the Chester Rural Cemetery Association and to his work as a surveyor.

In addition, this collection also includes a few photograph albums and scrapbooks that are personal in nature, some including family papers. Papers and a photograph album from Chester F. Baker's father, J. Engle Baker, date as early as the 1860s. Of special interest are well-captioned photographs of Chester F. Baker's military service during World War I.

Gift of Chester F. Baker.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Delaware County Historical Society directly for more information.

Delaware County Historical Society
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Faith Charlton through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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Contact Delaware County Historical Society for information about accessing this collection.

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